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Rotting Christ are in a rare legion of Metal bands to have never put out a bad album. With the exception of their duo of late 90's Gothic Metal albums (in which the first of the two A Dead Poem just about trumps Sleep Of The Angels) their career can be broken down into trilogies where the third album in each sequence is the strongest of the 3, and this latest effort (translating as “Do As Thou Wilt”) continues that trend by taking everything that was great about Theogonia and Aealo and hones them to perfection to make on of the strongest albums of Rotting Christ's career.
It is also the most ambitious, at least lyrically-speaking. Use of obscure and ancient languages has been part of Rotting Christ's forte as far back as 1991's Passage To Arcturo EP, but aside from the interlude track on that release (“Gloria de Domini Inferni”) they have never til now composed a song entirely in Latin. “Grandis Spiritus Diavolos” breaks this mould in that perfectly grandoise Rotting Christ style, borrowing more from stylistically from the epic side of Pagan Metal than ever before in the process, but Latin is not the only language used here.
The title track which excellently utilises woodwind through is heavy tremelo-picked verse sections focuses around repeated chants in ancient Greek, as does the sombre and ritualistic closing number “Χ ξ ς'” (which translates to “666”), while “P'unchaw kachun - Tuta kachun” mixes both Inca and a rousing chorus in Spanish to great effect, conjuring up images of marauding conquistadores in the process. “Ahura Mazdā- Aŋra Mainiuu” might court controversy with its Islamic chants and use of lyrics in (I think) simplified Arabic, but as a manifestation of Greek culture and music's soundclash between east and west it is a culmination of something Rotting Christ have been building towards for several years, though undoubtedly “Iwa Voodoo” is the biggest lyrical, thematic and musical risk-taker on here. Few other bands could mix Creole voodoo chants with Metal without it sounding daft and kitsch, and though this is the furthest thing on this album from the classic Rotting Christ sound it is undoubtedly a feather in their cap all the same.
“Cine iubeşte şi lasă” (translating as “who loves and leaves”) is another brave experimentation, not only as it is an adaptation of a traditional Romanian song, but because the arrangement has been left to 2 session musicians. Suzana & Eleni Vougioukli's vocals and piano playing are powerful to say the least, but given how close in style and delivery they are to the mighty Avant Garde composer Diamanda Galas who has collaborated with the band in the past it is hard not to feel a sting of disappointment that they have not chosen to renew that association.
This album does not only appeal to linguists and anthropological types though, and while anyone expecting a return to the Hellenic Black Metal style of old will not be pleased this is stylistically trademark Rotting Christ to the bone. The drumming on this album is nothing short of thunderous and the unmistakeable tremelo-picking guitar style laced with killer melodic licks and pinch harmonics produces more great riffs than ever, meaning there is not a dud moment or track on this whole record. “Gilgameš” briefly shows a little more old school flair with Sakis trading in his newer orc-like bark for his previous blackened rasp, but to really get something close to the early Rotting Christ sound you will need to get the special edition of this album for the bonus track “Welcome To Hel.” Not only is this a clever pun but a slick, clean and powerful update on the sound perfected on their early albums that makes me wonder if an album of re-recorded classic material with their current huge studio sound is a possibility. For now though Rotting Christ's eyes are looking firmly forward, and a track like “Русалка” which showcases some amazingly catchy riffs as well as seamless alternation between Sakis' barked vocals, whispered sections accompanied by chimes and the Gojira-like soaring clean vocal parts is stunning, and shows that this band's creative well has not run dry yet. [9/10]
From WAR ON ALL FRONTS A.D. 2013 zine- www.facebook.com/waronallfronts